Tess Shennan, PR for Theatre and Dance

I'm Tess and I'm a senior press officer

Describe your job

I work as part of the press team, where we are responsible for managing any press that might run around performances at the theatre. This might mean inviting critics to review performances, setting up interviews and photoshoots with artists, working with journalists from newspapers, TV and radio contacts, producers, dancers, artists and many others within the theatre and dance world. This means that every day is different and exciting. One day could be planning press campaigns, and the next preparing for the Olivier Awards. It’s a fast-paced world which also involves watching a lot of theatre and dance!

What are the most important skills you need to do your job?

You need to be passionate about theatre and dance. The job is fast paced and requires lots of energy and enthusiasm, so an interest in the field is certainly key. Otherwise, a creative mind prepared to think about different ideas such as possible articles, interviews and photoshoots is a great asset.

The job can involve juggling a lot of contacts and information at the same time, so being organised and a good timekeeper is also essential.

You will work with a host of different people, so it also helps to be someone who enjoys working with others and is a people-person!

With theatre often being an evening and weekend activity, you must also be prepared to work late and long hours at times.

I left school and...

Studied English at Exeter University. I had a brilliant three years there and tried to explore as many different career options as I could, including joining societies such as the local radio station and fitness societies. I wasn’t too sure of what I wanted to do when I graduated, but always knew I loved theatre.

A close friend was working at a theatre PR agency the summer after university and needed cover whilst she went travelling, so I said I would give it a go.

I was lucky enough to really enjoy my time as an intern, and my experience turned into a full time job. I worked at the agency for 5 years, working on a huge range of West End and touring theatre shows. I recently made the move to work in-house at a theatre and am very much enjoying my new challenge.

I’m most proud of...

I worked on the press to launch new West End musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, which all started as a BBC 3 documentary about a boy who wanted to wear a dress to his school prom.

We got to work with the most wonderful cast and creative team on launching the musical, inviting all the theatre critics to a glamorous red-carpet press night, as well as doing lots of interviews, photoshoots, performances, radio interview and more. The show is now on tour as well as continuing its run in the West End and is being made into a movie. It feels special to have been part of this wonderful production!

Before I started my career, I wish I knew…

Take your time and remember you are always learning.

It’s easy to want to be fully accomplished from day one, but I’m increasingly finding that learning from mistakes, and having as much experience as possible is essential to developing your skills. You will make mistakes, and often it’s a great way to learn.

A mistake I made which you can avoid repeating is...

Always say if you don’t understand a task! No-one will tell you off for asking for more clarity.

So, what’s next?

Still working within the arts on lots of exciting productions!

Here's my: